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* Jacket Images of Backhaus' Records

1. CD by Decca(and Philips) & EMI(and Biddulph) ; International version

1) Backhaus Edition of Decca

   Decca's studio recordings are very precious to lovers of Backhaus. This edition includes almost all of his stereo recordings in studio. The Jacket designs are same except for background tone. (As of Oct. 2001, all of these releases are deleted from international catalogue except Beethoven, but as of Oct. 2008 the Beethoven sonata recordings by stereo is reissued as Original Masters series)

Edition 1 ; Beethoven's Complete Sonatas(#433892, No.29 is from monaural complete set)

Edition 2 ; Miscellous works

- Beethoven ; 5 Concertos, Diabelli Variations(#433891)
- Brahms ; 2 Concertos, Pieces(#433895)
- Bach ; 2 Suites and 2 preludes and fugue, Haydn ; Solo Works(#433901)
- Mozart, Haydn ; Solo Works(#433900)
- Mozart ; Concerto No.27, Solo works(#433898)
- Schumann ; Concerto, Waldscenen(#433899)
- Schubert, Liszt, Mendelssohn ; Solo Works(#433902)



2) Decca's monaural reissues in Historic Series

   His monaural reissues by Decca are only two items from now on, which are very magnicent and exemplary style.

- Beethoven ; Piano Concerto Nos.4 & 5( with Krauss/VPO, #425962)
- Brahms ; The 2 Cello Sonatas(with
Fournier, #425973)

   Beethoven recording is not good in sound quality(especially, No.4) and shows some disaccords between solist and conductor in Emperor, but surely has very high level in solo and more perfect in technique than his stereo album with S.Isserstedt.
   Brahms' album is one of only two chamber music recording of his - the other is Schubert's 'Trout' in 78's era(Biddulph LHW 38) - and referred as classical example of this works for 45 years. I think Rostropovich/
Serkin(DG) and Starker's album(Mercury) are only comparable to this. Fournier recorded this works with Firkusny(DGG 139 119 SLPM) again, which has been paid less attention to by record enthusiast than this recording though very excellent performance and isn't reissued yet by single CD(note; DG's original masters series issued it by 'Fournier; Aristocrat of cello'.

3) 'Great Pianists' Series of Philips

   This album(#456718) consists of his Carnegie Hall Recital(live at 1954.3.30) and Brahms' Concerto No.2 with Schuricht, which are first reissued as CD except for Japan. Moreover, Japanese versions are 3 CDs and 'Carnegie Hall Recital' (London POCL 3479/80) strangely omitted Chopin's Etude op.25-2 in encore.
   Carnegie Hall recital is very good in quality, so reminds me of Andor Foldes' saying, "His playing in live concert was as perfect as his record." To say nothing of his technical perfectness, it is also perfect in musical aspect. Brahms' concerto is also good, better in technique than the famous '67 recording, and this is one of rare studio recordings of Schuricht(See
a fan's review at Amazon).

4) 'Legend' and 'The Classic Sound' Series of Decca

  • Legend(#466376), The Classic Sound(#448600)

   These albums have the same contents - Brahms' Concerto No.2 and Mozart's Concerto No.27 with Böhm. This recordings are very beautiful and grand performances. In Brahms, he completely grasped the work itself... Being somewhat imperfect in technique, I was not able to find warmer and maturer recording than this. In Mozart, he also depicted serenity of late days of Mozart well. Böhm's support is at the best level of both works.

5) Early Brahms' Concerto recordings(78s era) of EMI

  • EMI CHS 5 66418 2(2CD set)

   When HMV(the former name of EMI) planned the Brahms' centenary recordings, the man who undertook the piano works was Backhaus(In chamber works, Busch's team - his quartet and son-in-law, Rudolf Serkin - was appointed). Thus, he recorded quite many solo works from 1932.
   This album shows the middle years of Backhaus - tempo is faster than the Decca recordings, and straighter. This is a valuable archive to Backhaus' fans in order to know his style and progress, but I don't like to recommend this to common classical music lovers due to the poor sound quality. To know Backhaus' characteristic tone color, his Decca recordings(#433895) are proper choices even though this set contains more pieces than Decca's one.

6) Brahms' waltz recording ; EMI CDH 5 66425 2

   In this album, I think other players are more notable than Backhaus - Seefried, Höngen, Hotter in Liebeslieder, and Nadia Boulanger. She was one of the greatest teacher of music and composition in this century.

7) Beethoven's Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 of Biddulph(HMV)

  • Biddulph Piano Series LHW 37

   Perhaps this album contains the first Beethoven's concerto recording of Backhaus(recorded in 1927). You will see the review on Amazon(by Leslie Gerber).

2. LP & CD ; local versions - Japanese and Korean

   Because it was the easiest way to buy Japanese issues(London label) in order to get Backhaus' recordings before Decca reissued 'Backhaus Edition', I have some Japanese LPs and CDs. Several years ago, it was easy to see Japanese ones unissued as international versions in Korean market, but nowadays it became difficult. Perhaps, the devaluation of Korean 'Won' by IMF regime and 'Super Yen' will be the cause, and unofficial routes are much closed. I often have to buy LPs or Japanese CDs when wanting to get un-reissued records by majors.

1) Bach Recital ; London LP KIJC 9011

   Of course, his Bach is a bit romantic and may be out-of-date, but his beautiful tone color and humane warmth give special attraction to this recording. I think he did not care for the harpsichordic characters of Bach's work too much, which I agree and think Bach's style has to be thought over but that harpsichord need not be imitated in playing piano in details, because overconsciousness of harpsichord can do much harm to the appeal of piano. They say his 'Italian Concerto(BWV.971)' was very impressive, so I wish he had recorded more Bach.
   This LP is 'Super Analogue Disc' by King records under license of Japanese Decca, which has 180g weight for good sound quality. I think the sound of this LP is stable and mellow, but too expensive (2,500 Yen, I spended over 45 dollar then) and now rare.

2) Beethoven's Concertos Nos. 2 & 3(LP) ; London MX 9005

   Beethoven Concerto No.3 is excellent, except for a bit unsatisfactory sound quality of orchestra(recording ; Sep. 1950). I expect Decca will reissue this as 'Historic' series, followed by monaural No.4 & 5.

3) Beethoven's Concertos Nos. 4 & 5(CD, Korean)

   This image is that of the Korean local issue, of which jacket is the same design concept to Decca LPs. In Korea, Backhaus' stereo recording of Beethoven's concertos have been the creteria of the works for a long time - partially as these recordings are the best in the several issued LPs by license. Listening this set, I am unsatisfied with unbalanced sound that the volume of piano is a bit smaller than I expect(reversely, in famous '67 Brahms No.2 recording, solo is a small bit louder than I want), but Schmidt-Isserstedt's supporting is fairly good. Though this set is not eminent any more in 'Emperor', Nos. 1, 3, and 4 deserve to be standard now.

4) Beethoven's Complete Sonatas(CD, +Diabelli variations)

  • London F30L-20128~37(10 CD Set or singles)

   Beethoven's sonatas were his core repertoire. Because this recording was done during long time('58~69, No.29 is in '52), his technique was not good in '69 sessions. But his ability isn't questioned from now on, and this CD has been a classical one. Before Decca edition, this CD is only way to get it(I saw this in set form in France on my Europe trip in 1991 ^^).

5) 'Heritage of Backhaus' Series

   In Japan, London label released monaural Beethoven concertos, Schumann and Mozart's No.27 concertos(London F30L-20162), Mozart recital(London F30L-20165), and Brahms' cello sonatas etc. in May 1988, titled as 'Heritage of Backhaus'. I had to buy two of them in Korea in 1991 due to its rarity(^^).

6) His Last Recital
   ( 26 & 28th June, 1969, Stiftkirche, Ossiach in Carinthia, Austria )

  • London POCL 2659/60(2 CD Set)

   In technical aspect, there are many problems in this record. He made very big mistake in 3rd mvt. of Mozart's sonata No.11. But this record deserves to be owned due to its historical value(and Japanese version has very good liner notes with many photos). In 28th June concert, this record captured the moment to stop playing due to his heart ailment. He said "Ich bitte um eine kleine Pause(I want to have a short rest)" and changed program. After intermission, he played Schumann's 2 pieces from 'Phantasiestucke' and Schubert's Impromptus D.935-2, which is the last music he plays.
   After this recital he went to hospital in Villach(Austria), and died 7 days later. He buried in Cologne, where I want to visit again because of the famous record shop "Saturn". ^^

7) Grieg's album ; Simax(Nor) 1809(3 CD set)

   In this album, Backhaus' playing is only one('The bridal procession passes'), but more interesting things are playings of Grieg, Percy Grainger, etc. I don't have this yet(not imported in Korea), but want to get its historical meanings. You will see the review on Amazon(by Leslie Gerber).

* Miscellous Images

* Left ; Brahms' Concerto No.2 (with Böhm)
   - Decca LP SXL 6322

   This photo was taken in session. You can find Willy Boskovsky(in brown vest) and Karl Böhm(with glasses) in background. This jacket is used as that of 'The Classic Sound' Series.

** Right ; Brahms' Concerto No.2 (with Schuricht)
   - London POCL-3341(CD)

   This CD is one of 'Backhaus in Monaural' series.


* Beethoven ; Sonatas
(Salzburg live)


* Carnegie Hall recital
(2CD set)

  * Brahms ; Paganini
- Orfeo C 300 921 B   - London POCL 3479/80   - Nimbus NI 8806

(c) 1999~ , Youngrok LEE ; Link free, but please get my approval before you reuse, copy, or quote this materials.

Music Home Curriculum Vitae Photo Gallery Discography Korean

Created ; 16th Dec. 1999
Last Update ; 25th Oct. 2008